Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:44 am Posts: 6 Location: East Point, Texas
Does anyone have some ideas for OMRI or NOP approved wetting agents as an alternative to CapSil. The local manager of the farmer's coop has had great success with foliar applications of liquid humate on his own pastures, but only with the use of CapSil. Is there an alternative? I see plenty of high priced spreader-stickers that are OMRI approved, but no wetting agents or penatrators. Are wetting agents and organic certification legitimate bedfellows?
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 8:15 am Posts: 963 Location: Odenville,Alabama
Old organic gardening books used to recommend liquid mild soaps like Ivory soap or Murphy Oil Soap as spreader-sticker agents. Recent studies have proven that these products can hinder or even kill beneficial aerobic bacteria or fungi in various compost tea recipes.
The best organic spreader-stickers for teas are molasses and fish oil and yucca oil.
I use all types of molasses products in all my tea recipes (aerated or non-aerated teas). Dry molasses powder is a great economical feed product made from liquid molasses sprayed and dried on soy, wheat, or corn flour. Molasses is a high carbon food. It therefore is great for odor control. Decomposed molasses has the ability to help nutrients and microbes stick better to the liquid tea at application time.
Fish oil is another excellent sticker-spreader and fertilizer. There is no fish oil in regular fish emulsion, and just tiny amounts in regular fish meal. That is why I like to decompose whole fish scraps or canned fish in my aerated teas for the extra fish oil nutrients.
Far as yucca oil is concerned, it can be expensive (unless you grow your own yucca plants). I can't get yucca oil in my local area cheaply. Many organic gardeners say it's a powerful spreader-sticker and fertilizer, full of powerful micronutrients.
_________________ The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:45 pm Posts: 2863 Location: San Antonio,TEXAS
You should be able to make good use of your cheapest source of sugar. Experiment with table sugar in water and see what it takes to get the water to stick. New growth on many plants has a pretty powerful anti wetting properties, so it makes a good experiment.
This doesn't answer the original question, but I've wondered about surfactants that enhance or at least don't hurt biological activity for foliar sprays. Most common surfactants are intended to help reduce/destroy bio-activity, so we're looking at the issue from the other end (as usual).
Musing without a lot of pre-thought, I've wondered how processed skim milk might work. The active surfactant agent(s) most likely would be the phosphoproteins, which would require some denaturing of the milk protein to unwind the casein to a simpler state. In coffee shops, they do that by steaming the milk, but I've wondered if an enzyme chop would do something similar. I was thinking of maybe a bromelin or papain prep to keep the cost low. There might be issues with the milk interacting with salts in the foliar spray and maybe with residual enzyme activity either with the spray components or on the plants. I don't know whether the quantity of milk that would be required (if it even would work at all) would reduce milk's effectiveness against mildew in the application area.
On the other side of the phospho surfactant idea is lecithin, which is a phospholipid. I can see how it might be a fair candidate, and it would seem to me to be fairly benign. Again, I suppose it could have some issues with salts in the foliar spray solution. There probably is quite a difference between water and the chemistry of a foliar spray solution.
As an aside, I'm not sure how damaging propylene glycol would be on the bio-activity. The fact that it is (or was) in diet Dr. Pepper doesn't give me much comfort. One can get to/toward PG from coconut oil, but it isn't a far jump from coconut oil to soap/detergent either, so that probably moves too far toward an undesirable biocide/biostat effect. I assume that straight coconut oil doesn't perform as well as yucca oil, or else folks wouldn't be using the yucca.
Personally, I prefer the sticky approach of sugars to the spreading effect of surfactants. I know that a California food producer developed a delivery mechanism that generates an electrostatic charge to drastically reduce the required application quantity (of synthetic pesticides, in their particular case), and that sounds like a good overall approach. It apparently took a lot of R&D though. Again, the soup of a good foliar feed spray is a far cry from the homogeneous solution that that company was using in terms of how easy it would be to impart a charge to the solution.
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